The 30th annual Scandinavian Association for Pollination Ecology (SCAPE) meeting is taking place at its northern-most, and most remote, venue. We are at Abisko in Sweden, 68O N and 195km inside the Arctic Circle. It’s not too cold at the moment, but there is ice starting to form on the many lakes in the area, and the trees are leafless. It’s a stunning, sparse location for the conference.
About 75 of us have gathered to hear a wide range of talks on all matters related to pollinators and pollination. The programme kicked off at 1925 on Thursday evening when five participants discovered that they were speaking in the first session after a hard day of travelling. I’d been awake since 0330 that morning so was not as receptive to the science as I should have been… Yesterday was much better, in that I was more awake, but it was still quite an intensive day that culminated in my own talk on spatio-temporal stability in a plant-pollinator interaction on Tenerife. Being last speaker in a session is a mixed blessing and needs a good story to keep people awake. But I’m not best able to judge if I succeeded.
The quality of the science, and of the presentations, has so far been very good. Here’s a selection of just a few other things I’ve learned or that have intrigued me during the first half of the conference:
Individual pollen grains can be stained a variety of fluorescent colours by a new marking technique involving “quantum dots” (Bruce Anderson)
We are still a long way from understanding all of the subtle ecological and behavioural effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators and pollinations (Juho Lämsä and Dara Stanley)
There are serious prospects of us being able to track individual pollinators across landscapes using drones (Tonya Lander)
Active “stigma rubbing” by anthers to promote self pollination has been documented for using time-lapse photography (Mohamed Abdelaziz)
The outcomes of competition for pollinations and reproductive interference between co-flowering plant species are complex and certainly not always predictable (Sharon Strauss and James Rodger)
The title of this post refers to a great song by Richard and Linda Thompson called “I want to see the bright lights tonight” and reflects everyone’s desire over to see the aurora borealis during this meeting. We had a brief encounter with the northern lights on Thursday evening, but they were pale and obscured by clouds. Perhaps tonight will be brighter. Before that we have another full day of talks to look forward to, and I’ll try to report back before we leave tomorrow. For now, breakfast is calling.